Friday, February 02, 2007

No Child Left Behind as an Anti-Poverty Measure

Tell it like it is!

This article argues that, although No Child Left Behind is not presented as a jobs policy (Bush’s slip during a Presidential Debate being the only place it is given such a moniker), the Act does function as a substitute for the creation of decently paying jobs for those who need them. Aimed particularly at the minority poor like its 1965 predecessor, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, NCLB acts as an anti-poverty program because it is based on an implicit assumption that increased educational achievement is the route out of poverty for low-income families and individuals. NCLB stands in the place of policies like job creation and significant raises in the minimum wage which—although considerably more expensive than standardized testing—would significantly decrease poverty in the United States...

...For more education to lead to better jobs, there have to be jobs available.
However, there are not now, nor have there been for more than two decades, nearly
enough jobs for those who need them. Labor economist Gordon Lafer demonstrated
that over the period 1984 to 1996—at the height of an alleged labor shortage—the
number of people in need of work exceeded the total number of job openings by
an average of five to one. In 1996, for example, the country would have needed 14.4
million jobs in order for all low-income people to work their way out of poverty.
However, there were at most 2.4 million job openings available to meet this need;
of these, only one million were in full-time, non-managerial positions (2002).

Furthermore, the jobs the U.S. economy now produces are primarily poverty wage
jobs—and only a relative few highly paid ones—making it increasingly less
certain that education will assure that work pays well (Anyon, 2005). Seventy-seven
percent of new and projected jobs in the next decade will be low-paying. Only a
quarter of these are expected to pay over $26,000 a year (in 2002 dollars). A mere
12.6% will require a college degree, while most will require on-the-job training
only. Of the 20 occupations expected to grow the fastest, only six require college
degrees—these are in computer systems and computer information technology
fields, and there are relatively few of these jobs overall (Department of Labor, 2002)...

...NCLB is part of this process of socializing the costs of poverty. When the Act
assumes—even implicitly—that poverty is a result of low scores on standardized
tests, rather than on the fact that there are not enough decently paying jobs, it lets
the business community off the hook. It saddles the poor with unrealistic expectations
and the rest of us with unwitting support of corporate irresponsibility...

I'm speechless.


Jane said...

I think that now is the time to bring back the industrial arts. I have a friend who has a doctorate in artificial intellegence. A doctorate-that's educated...he sees a lot of outsourcing in his industry to India. Education is important, but even the "educated" jobs are being outsourced. Yet, when I need my car,toilet or computer fixed- I can not easily take it to India. Better to have someone in the area.

I think the emphasis on academics and college prep as the only opportunity might overlook some highly paid career opportunities.

NO said...

You are right on Jane. JF

Chalkmaster said...

Good post!

Nail-on-the-head, bull's-eye, etc etc etc etc

Andy said...

I fully agree and believe that No Child Left Behind has to go. I would like to see ideas on how teachers and future teachers can help be advocates for this change. Now paychecks will be determined by student grades??? It's making less sense the futher they go!